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Exploratory study in tourism: designing an initial, qualitative phase of sequenced, mixed methods research

Mason, Peter; Augustyn, Marcjanna; Seakhoa-King, Arthur


Peter Mason

Marcjanna Augustyn

Arthur Seakhoa-King


Exploratory studies in the social sciences are being increasingly advocated, particularly in relation to new research themes or when addressing an existing issue from a new perspective. Although exploration is usually the starting point, it is frequently part of a sequence of research stages. However, until recently the actual process of conducting such exploratory research within the leisure and tourism field has received little attention. This is due not just to perceptions that exploration is merely the initial step in a longer research process, but significantly, because there is a lack of guidance on how to conduct such research. This paper argues that when the overall tourism research study involves the use of mixed methods, an initial exploratory stage conducted as part of a sequential research process, requires a systematic approach to achieve a reliable platform for further investigation. The paper shows how and why a systematic research design process in the exploratory stage can enhance the value of studies, when the initial qualitative stage is to be followed by a quantitative phase. Three phases of an exploratory qualitative research design process are identified: preparation, development and refinement. Criteria for assessing the suitability of qualitative data collection techniques are proposed. It is argued that careful attention to the process of designing the initial exploratory qualitative stage constitutes the necessary condition for achieving results that will form a sound basis for the next quantitative sequence of research.


Mason, P., Augustyn, M., & Seakhoa-King, A. (2010). Exploratory study in tourism: designing an initial, qualitative phase of sequenced, mixed methods research. The international journal of tourism research, 12(5), 432-448. doi:10.1002/jtr.763

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 31, 2010
Online Publication Date Aug 4, 2010
Publication Date 2010-09
Print ISSN 1099-2340
Electronic ISSN 1522-1970
Publisher Wiley
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 12
Issue 5
Pages 432-448
Keywords exploratory study; qualitative research design; mixed methods research; sequential research
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